TikTok's Charles Gross on Slugging, Glycolic Acid, and Redefining "Luxury Skincare"

Let's talk about it.

TikToker Charles Gross Holding Luxury Handbag

Charles Gross

What I Put on My Face

All skin is good skin, which is why good skincare is more of a journey than a destination. We all love a one-off tip—but, at Byrdie, we’re more interested in how our skin evolves over time. The product we've used for a decade, the ingredient cocktail that made us glow, the step we never skip, and all the advice in between. This is the stuff that makes a real difference. With What I Put on My Face, we’re bringing you the rituals, recommendations, and failed experiments (we’ve all had them) straight from celebrities, founders, and influencers who’ve gone through it themselves. 

Stumbling upon the TikTok world of Charles Gross is like submerging a warm bath at the end of a stressful day. His balanced takes on fashion and beauty—ranging from puffer coat reviews to philosophical discourse on the meaning of "luxury"—have made him the platform's resident authority on all things quality, style, and indulgence. Add his soothing voice and signature tagline ("let's talk about it"), and you're basically looking at the fashion equivalent of ASMR.

In the social media star's own words, his "love of fashion really started at a young age." Paired with a background in YouTube and luxury reselling, it's not shocking that his attention to detail, deep knowledge of materials, fabrics, and construction, and content know-how translated to a platform where minutia, information sharing, and transparency reign supreme. Plus, Gross's comment section always passes the vibe check: Fans share their own insights and look for wisdom on everything from skincare to whether high-end handbags live up to the hype (which Gross is all-to-qualified to answer).

So, what's next for TikTok's reigning king of luxury? We caught up with Gross on the heels of a busy NYFW to talk all things skincare. Ahead, TikToker Charles Gross breaks down his high-low routine and share product gems and deep cuts.

His Definition of "Luxury" Skincare

I define luxury in a very romantic way, so to speak. I don't think price tags or packaging necessarily dictate whether it's luxury or not. For me, if something's effective, works into your lifestyle, and promotes self-care, then it is a luxury regardless of its price. Some of the most incredible products I found—which really encouraged me to take time for myself and engage in self-care and my skincare—are relatively inexpensive. So for me, I think that luxury is something that works for you and encourages routine. It could be something sentimental, drugstore, high-end, or unconventional. However it fits into your life, that's luxury.

About His Skin

My skin is on the combination side, and my primary focus has always been texture and tone, as well as overall elasticity—collagen, volume, maintaining those youthful factors in my skin. I always focus my routine around texture, tone, and overall skin health. I know that a lot of skincare right now is focused on aging, photoaging, prevention with SPF, but I feel like my primary focus has always been to target the core of the skin and its health. Exfoliate, resurface, work on texture and tone, those three throughlines have always been my focus.

What Got Him Into Skincare

My mother always had a skincare routine, and I would watch her do it from a very young age. I would see all these products in glass jars and tubes, and it was very routine (and fascinating) to me to take a moment at the end of the day, do self-care, and use those products. Her anti-aging, very substantial glass jars all lined up on a shelf just settled with me, so I was always reminded to take care of my skin that way—and someday have those "glass jars" in a line of my own.

His Morning Vs. Nighttime Routine

Typically, I try not to do separate morning or nighttime routines. I do my routine one time a day because it does involve prescription retinol. So, I try to make sure my skin has the time to produce what oils it needs to rehydrate and rebalance.

I try to really focus on a once-a-day intensive routine that involves Augustinus Bader's Cleanser ($69). I followed that with glycolic acid, and I kind of let that sit on my face right after cleansing. After the glycolic acid is set into my skin, I follow that with my moisturizer, which always differs. I love Augustinus Bader's The Rich Cream.

Sometimes, if I feel like my skin is really in need, I'll use Aquaphor ($14) over the moisturizer. And then I always do lip care, which is very important to me. I really love the DHC Olive Oil Lip Balm ($15) right now. And once that's all said and done that's typically my skincare routine complete. I just let those actives (the retinol and glycolic acid) really do their work. My routine may seem a little intense, but I've let my skin grow to accept it.

Charles Gross selfie with glowing skin

Charles Gross

 The Skincare Step He Never Skips

I think no matter what I will always have time for glycolic acid. I think that is such an incredible ingredient for my skin, specifically chemical exfoliation. It can be so hard to find one that works (and doesn't break you or irritates). For me, it's glycolic. I just use that all over. I use it on my body. I use it on my face, and it doesn't irritate. If I'm on a desert island, as long as there's water and glycolic acid, we'll be okay.

How His Routine Changed Over Time

I think a big emphasis is on time—making sure never to rush. And I know that may sound cliche, so to speak. It's not really a tangible answer, but I used to rush my skincare. Now, I take time to let everything settle. Learning more about the products themselves and their ingredients (which also takes time) has been really beneficial. I find that if I take time between each step, and really let the products enter my skin properly, it is far more beneficial.

I try not to use any quick fixes. If it's it's worth doing, it's worth doing right—and sometimes that does take time. Also, I do a lot of laser and in-office skin procedures that I credit for a lot of my skin's health and appearance. Skincare is incredibly potent, but lasers and in-office procedures are that next step of creating health anti-aging deep within the skin that sometimes topicals just can't access.

The Best Skincare Advice He Ever Received

If your skin is irritated, never underestimate the power of plain tap water and leaving your skin alone. I feel like nowadays, we're so quick to look for quick fixes and products. But the body is incredibly in tune with repairing itself, and sometimes a good rinse and letting your body sort things out is the best option.

His Most-Used Product

The DHC lip cream. Lip care is incredibly important to me, so I feel like I'm just like slathering that on all day. Probably much more than I need to (I'm actually going to put it on right now).

The Product That's Been in Hist Routine the Longest

Definitely, my glycolic acid. I use the Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner ($12).

The Deep Cut Product He's Loving Right Now

I actually found this diaper cream from the UK that I fell in love with. It's called Sudocrem ($19). I read about when I had a laser facial before fashion week, and I had some irritation on my upper lip. I just wanted some instant relief, and I didn't want to use a topical steroid. I didn't want to itch my skin in the middle of the night or further irritate my skin physically. So, I just did a quick google to find an at-home cream. And I saw that people were raving about something called Sudocrem. It smells very medical and has a very thick, white consistency, but I put it on my upper lip and the next morning, it was completely irritation-free. I've been using it as a spot treatment on my body. I'm not totally sure if it's effective, or the safety profile behind it, but it's a product that I just fell in love with randomly.

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